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Lubelski, Samara – “Future Slip” – [Ecstatic Peace!]

lombard   11/30/2010   12-inch, A Library

A summer 2009 LP release by Samara Lubelski, “Future Slip” is a dreamy, wistful ride from the NYC music veteran of Hall of Fame, Tower Recordings, and many other projects. This is her 5th solo release and it was produced by Thurston Moore. Samara has a crispy, whispery singing style that has a tad of the folky retro feel of Vashti Bunyan, a smidgen of the girl-group jangle of Softies-era Rose Melberg, and a hint of a sedated Stereolab. Her breathy, spare vocals combine with piano, Rhodes, guitars, etc. And, as long as we’re mentioning Sonic Youth, this would also fit comfortably alongside some of their quieter and Kim Gordon-voiced pieces. Beautifully breathy psychedelia.

Evon – “Bees Are Coming, The” – [Aphonia Recordings]

lombard   11/30/2010   A Library, CD

Released in September, 2010, this album by Evon, “The Bees are Coming,” features a number of SF Bay Area artists and is led by composer and artist Agnes Szelag. Agnes composed, performed, recorded and produced this and shows her chops on a dizzying number of instruments (cello, bass, guzheng, harp, guitar, harpsichord, vibraphone, singing bowls, glockenspiel, piano, electronics, etc etc!).

The overall effect is at times heavy, with the album starting up with deep bass sounds that lumber into a monster-movie soundtrack and then twist into beauty with pretty Eastern-flavored plucking, along with warm percussion, marimba, vibraphone and woodblock. Agnes’ vocals then come in, providing a slightly jazzy accent. It can also be atmospheric, with prominent strings and vocals that are at times fuzzy accents, floating and dancing with the music. It’s kind of like chamber pop meeting some jazz performers at the symphony for the screening of a film noir, with the loveliest sounds resulting from that marriage.

135 Grand Street New York 1979 [coll] – [Soul Jazz Records]

lombard   11/23/2010   CD, Soundtrack

This is the soundtrack to the recently released film “135 Grand Street New York 1979,” which documented the No Wave scene in New York City. The soundtrack includes raw, no wave performances by Theoretical Girls, UT, A Band (kind of surf-influenced, lo fi garage), Rhys Chatham, Youth in Asia, The Static, Chinese Puzzle, Morales, Steve Piccolo, and Jill Kroesen. A great document of the no wave scene and its experimental, art rock sounds, from minimal to intense.

KIT – “Invocation” – [Upset The Rhythm]

lombard   11/23/2010   A Library, CD

On their new sophomore full-length “Invocation,” Oakland/LA-based KIT gives us a great blend of rock with some melodic girl-group moments in the vocals. Recorded with Phil Elverum in Washington, it’s super fun and upbeat with pounding drums (often at the forefront), a bit of math-rock, feedback, drama, and lady vocals. “Cure Light Wounds” is one of my favorites, with its girl punk, yelled vocals, and lyrics referencing a broken heart that makes the singer ask, “Did you put a hex on me, a curse, a charm?” Members include Vice Cooler, Steve Touchton, Kristy Gesch, and George Chen and on this release they also have some guests, including Nora Danielson on vocals and violin and Themba Lewis on upright bass, vocals and noise guitar.

Pigeons – “Liasons” – [Soft Abuse]

lombard   11/23/2010   A Library, CD

This brand new release “Liasons” from Bronx duo Pigeons is simply gorgeous. Their third album is a pleasantly sedate blend of lo-fi psychedelia-infused pop. While listening I was reminded a little bit of Kendra Smith’s Guild of Temporal Adventures with moments of a slowed-down, Quaaluded Strawberry Switchblade. It has a far-away folky feel, with muffled vocals that sound like they are coming out of an AM radio. Flute pops in here and there, as well as some dramatic organ. There’s a swank French flavor on two tracks (including a Serge Gainsbourg cover).

Date Palms – “of Psalms” – [Root Strata]

lombard   10/19/2010   12-inch, A Library

Debut release, “Of Psalms” by Date Palms, an Oakland-based project featuring composer Gregg Kowalsky and sound artist/violinist Marielle Jakobsons (darwinsbitch, myrmyr). They craft pleasant, drony, raga-like instrumental pieces, some more Eastern-flavored than others. I’m drawn to the pretty, twinkling strings and bells. Drama by way of bass, feedback and repetitive phrasing in places. Michael Elrod adds tanpura on one track and Noah Phillips provides guitar on other. Elevated psych.

We Ain’t Housewife Material: an International Collection Of.. [coll] – [Dionysus Records]

lombard   10/19/2010   12-inch, A Library

Released in 2004, the Dionysus Records collection “We Ain’t Housewife Material: An International Collection of All Girl Punk, Rock and Garage” is a fun romp through estrogen-fueled rock and roll from all over the globe. My favorites include the retro, ’60s-inspired sounds of Japan’s Flowermulu and the fun rock by Elvis McMan from the U.S. Another band from Japan, The Soap, has an awesome frenetic track with a little bit of cool creepiness to it (in the same fun way that the Cramps are creepy), punctuated by screams. It runs the gamut from rock to garage to even a little bit of groovy art rock. Girls Rock!

Core of The Coalman – “Box of The Last Help” – [Zum Media]

lombard   10/12/2010   A Library, CD

Now residing in Prague, former Bay Area resident Jorge Boehringer is Core of the Coalman. On his 2010 release, Box of the Last Help, (the title refers to the term “First Aid Kit” in Czech) he uses viola, electronics and acoustic guitar to create soundscapes that bridge the borders between experimental and modern classical music. With a Master’s degree from Mills College in Oakland, he’s composed music for individuals and organizations ranging from dance troupes to American Conservatory Theater.

The 4 pieces on this release are quite distinct, ranging from the lengthy, epic opening track (“Inertia II”) which starts out with a long repetitive segment, to the point where you might suspect that your CD player is having technical difficulties (it sounds like it’s stuck on a track). It develops and progresses into sections with repetitive keyboard, then loops back and alternates with the earlier sounds. It gets more musical as the piece evolves into something more similar to classical music, with hints of Philip Glass. The title “Inertia” is quite apt, as you might feel like you are trapped in the track with its tightly repetitive segments.

The third track (“Last Help (Prelude)”) is a short, pleasant acoustic guitar piece and the final track (“Last Help”) begins with a lovely harp-like layering of string sounds making for a gorgeous wash of music; but still playing off of the theme of repetition that can be heard throughout this release. From challenging to mesmerizing, Core of the Coalman will pique the ears of many different types of listeners.

Nakatani, Tatsuya – “Abiogenesis” – [H & H Production Recordings]

lombard   10/12/2010   A Library, CD

This newish release (from March 2010) features bowed gong and percussion by Pennsylvania-based (originally from Osaka, Japan) drummer/percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani. The 18 untitled tracks on Abiogenesis represent his experimental/improv leanings (he’s worked with tons of heavy-weights and tours the world relentlessly). The sounds on each piece include drone, high-pitched squeals of the bow, and light tapping on the gong creating a bell-like sound. Track 4 even sounds like a heavy breath or the amplified sound of ripping of paper. Track 5 bumps, thumps, bangs, and rattles; almost like large metal boxes full of cymbals are being tossed around a room. Much of it is dark and ominous, but certainly satisfying.

Kim Ki O – “Dans” – [Enfant Terrible]

lombard   9/7/2010   A Library, CD

On this new limited edition LP-only release Dans (KFJC is adding a CD promo copy), Turkish duo Kim Ki O presents us with some luscious early ’80s-infused electronic sounds. These ladies (Ekin Sanac doing synth, keys, vox and beats and Berna Gol on bass, vox and beats) started doing music together in the summer of 2006 and have had a number of self-released CDRs and compilation tracks before doing this full-length for Enfant Terrible. The name of the band means “Who is that anyway” in Turkish and it reflects the ethereal nature of the sounds. With a lovely early ’80s slow and somber electronic vibe (think Joy Division) combined with floaty, minimal lady vocals (sort of 4AD-ish like Cocteau Twins and Lush) , it’s similar to a lightly frosted cupcake that’s sweet, but not saccharine.

Kadet – “Thin Air” – [Current Recordings]

lombard   9/7/2010   A Library, CD

On the 2004 release “Thin Air“, musician and media artist Kadet (aka Kadet Kuhne) creates minimal electronic soundscapes using sounds from the installation Sensorium. Each piece represents a “room” in the installation and all are inspired by the RGB color spectrum. My ears picked up sounds of wind, concrete scrape, buzz, drone, and some lovely cello samples on “Skipsteria.”

Now residing in Oakland, Kadet Kuhne recently stopped by KFJC for a live performance and will have an interactive installation featured at the De Young Museum on Friday, September 10, 2010.

Miami Sound: Rare Funk & Soul From Miami, Florida 1967-1974 [coll] – [Soul Jazz Records]

lombard   8/24/2010   12-inch, Soul

After a San Francisco summer full of foggy 50 degree days, the sun emerged today and the city is baking in 95 degree heat. Could there be a more perfect soundtrack for this change in the weather than this collection of retro funk and soul circa 1967 to 1974. Miami Sound: Rare Funk and Soul from Miami, Florida 1967-1974 was released on Soul Jazz back in 2003, this double LP collection sizzles with funky guys and gals (Helene Smith kills it with her commentary on manhood and womanhood in her tracks “You Got to Be a Man” and “A Woman Will Do Wrong”). Drama, disco, funk, soul, sex, and love gone good and bad.

Moonhearts – “Moonhearts” – [Tic Tac Totally]

lombard   8/24/2010   A Library, CD

On their brand new 2010 debut full-length, the California-based Moonhearts (they used tto be called “Charlie and the Moonhearts”) deliver delightful garagy, lo-fi rock, with a twinge of surf (especially on “Deathstar”). Recorded in San Francisco by Eric Bauer and Ty Segall, it’s fuzzy fun for a generation raised with MP3s and ear buds or for an older generation nostalgic for transistor and AM radio.

Mushroom – “Naked, Stoned & Stabbed” – [4 Zero Records]

lombard   7/20/2010   A Library, CD

Take a hit of your preferred substance of choice and trip out to Oakland collective Mushroom’s latest blend of spacy psychedelia: Naked, Stoned & Stabbed. This 2010 release was recorded over the course of a weekend and was inspired by a recent gig in which they performed the 1971 Pete Townshend rock opera Lifehouse.

There’s plenty of guitar, flute, and keys (Farfisa organ, Wurlitzer piano, pump organ, mini moog) on here; making for some super groovy retro pieces, but also a heaping dose of pretty, spacy washes of sound. It’s cheerful, with moments of Latin flair, tropical heat, Eastern mystique (electric sitar) and outer space communications.

For the most part it’s instrumental, but the final piece is the Kevin Ayers cover “Singing a Song in the Morning” featuring vocals from Sonya Hunter and Josh Pollack.

Anderson, Laurie – “Homeland” – [Nonesuch Records]

lombard   7/20/2010   A Library, CD

Laurie Anderson’s new 2010 release “Homeland” is comprised of both a CD and DVD documentary. The pieces on the CD were written while she was on tour and she explains in the liner notes that she began the process by “making an ever-changing series of stories…and songs about America.” Her signature haunted talk-sing vocal style with effects recites her poetic musings about traversing the country. She’s joined by a range of collaborators, including Eyvind Kang (viola), John Zorn (saxophone), Rob Burger (keyboards), Antony (vocals on “Strange Perfumes”), Lou Reed, and Tuvan throat singers. Full of contemporary cultural references and commentary on modern society, it’s truly a deep listen from an important artist who has always been an experimenter. The documentary provides an inside look into the creative process behind the record.

Musics In The Margin 2: Musik Oblik [coll] – [Sub Rosa]

lombard   7/20/2010   A Library, CD

Meant to bridge the worlds of modern art, contemporary art, and outsider art, the “Art & Marges Museum” in Brussels worked with Sub Rosa to produce this compilation, the second in the series “Music in the Margins.” For this release, Musik Oblik, they cull together an incredible range of sounds.

It starts with Berlin visual artist and musician Klaus Beyer doing a few minimal, goofy, crazy tracks, including his interpretation of “Hey Jude,” some dramatic spoken German vocals with hand claps, and electronics. Other artists on here range from experimental and cacophonous (Wild Classical Music Ensemble) to a bit creepy (Baudouin Oosterlynck), to groovy and jammy (Othin Spake), to classical (Baudouin de Jaer), to spooky and adventurous (Jacques Brodier).

Visual art and music are strongly connected in this release, a number of pieces arising from the music of outsider artist Adolf Wolfli‘s paintings. Wolfli, a prolific composer and visual artist, was committed to an insane asylum in 1899, where he crafted the majority of his work.

A fascinating collection that reminds us that the lines between high/low art, insanity/genius, and outsider/insider are often constructed by keepers of the institutions, rather than by an honest interpretation of the material. Everyone on here is an experimental artist in their own right.

Scout Niblett – “Calcination of Scout Niblett, The” – [Drag City]

lombard   7/20/2010   A Library, CD

On her new 2010 release, “The Calcination of Scout Niblett,” Scout Niblett delivers an emotionally intense ride in which her strong vocals provide the counter-point to moments of equally intense orchestration operating at the low end of the register. There’s catchy, heavy guitar that rumbles and feeds back, crashing cymbals, pounding drum. Even the pieces (like I.B.D.) that begin pretty, slow and spare add layers of instruments, building in intensity. There’s something quite beautiful about the interplay between her strong, lilting, howling vocals (a bit reminiscent of Mecca Normal’s Jean Smith here) and the heaviness of the guitar and drums. On the cover art she smiles and waves while holding a blow torch and that is perhaps the perfect visual accompaniment for her music, which is both sweet and scorching.

Internal Improv – “[small]” – [Scotch Tapes]

lombard   7/20/2010   A Library, Cassette

Limited to 25 copies, this 2009 cassette release by Los Angeles-area musician David Lucien (aka Internal Improv or [dav’s] Internal Improv) is a quick jaunt through his lo-fi experimental artistry. Super low male vocals, guitar, and tape fuzz begin it all and lead into a twinkly piece with some minimal beats. My favorite is the final piece, “Small,” with its muffled male voice and a lady joining in with the refrain “my body is a failure.” Quite evocative material.

Foxtails Brigade – “Bread and The Bait, The” – [Foxtails Brigade]

lombard   6/29/2010   A Library, CD

When Foxtails Brigade dropped by KFJC a few weeks back they brought in a copy of this album, The Bread and the Bait, which is their forthcoming full-length debut (official release in Fall 2010). This San Francisco-based project features the lovely vocals and guitar of Laura Weinbach, along with Anton Patzer (Judgment Day) on violin. Known for busking on the streets of Oakland, the quiet elegance of their music hearkens back to an earlier era, with lyrics evoking childhood delights and mysteries (The Doll). Laura Weinbach recently put together an interesting show in San Francisco featuring both music and fashion and is a champion for visual arts, crafts, and underground designers.

Chin Chin – “Sound of The Westway” – [Slumberland Records]

lombard   6/29/2010   12-inch, A Library

I couldn’t be happier about the recent reissues of material by several girl bands from Switzerland from back in the day (KFJC just added material by Kleenex/Lilliput, as well as a Chin Chin 7″). The latest is a 1985 release by Swiss girl group Chin Chin, reissued just a couple of months back by Slumberland/Mississippi Records. “Sound of the Westway” stands the test of time and is a fun blend of classic 50s/60s girl group sounds with 1980s attitude and a punk rock undercurrent with edgier/more persistent vocals than from the earlier eras. More recent bands like Heavenly and Tiger Trap come to mind, but there’s also some unmistakably ’80s elements like random bits of harmonica (reminding me of The Alarm) and sax. I love this!

Haiku Review:

Swiss girl band Chin Chin
Delivers 80s pop punk
And Da Doo Ron Ron

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